Everyone is different and I am as different as they come. Years of poor ergonomic choices have left me with a lot of tendonitis and just possibly some arthritis. In brief, my fingers don’t like to stretch. I got the Atreus because I thought the columnar layout would help, and it does! But that’s just a start.
this thread helped me realize just how far I could take this thing, which it turns out is pretty far. My goal became to see if I could keep my fingers on the home columns, and in the home row +/- 1 row. My thumbs also don’t want to move very much, so I want to restrict each to the inner two keys on the bottom row.
So here’s where I’m at today (the rate of change is high).
Level 0 is alpha keys, with the shift/ctrl/option/command modifiers in the home row as “modifier when held, normal key otherwise.” I heavily modified Colemak, taking Mod DH several steps farther so that only two letters (G and M) require a finger to move outside of the home columns, and those just a one-column jog. Home left thumb is backspace, home right thumb is space, and one in gets you Esc and Return, respectively.
Hold down either thumb home and you get to Level 1, which is numbers, nav, and punctuation. Same modifiers.
Hold down either thumb inner home and you get to Level 2, which is function keys, media keys, and more nav (what you get if you hit fn+arrow on a Mac keyboard).
So far this experiment is going pretty well. My fingers don’t move much at all, which if I stick with this should eventually buy me a lot of speed. I get to leverage muscle memory for shift/ctrl/option (just had to learn not move vertically off of home), but using my index finger for command is taking some retraining. Using a level shift for all punctuation feels surprisingly natural, with some adjustments. I’m using my thumbs a lot more, which may come back to bite me. If my tendonitis doesn’t let me use my thumbs this way then the experiment may be over before it’s really begun.
And so it turns out I’m only using 32 of the 44 Atreus keys. What to do with the unused keys? They were bugging me, and confusing my fingers. So I took them out, and my son 3D printed me some covers for the empty slots, easily removed for when I change my mind again tomorrow.